BY: Fr. Gerald M. Musa



A shepherd girl carried milk across the river daily and a simple man who lived beside a river was shocked to hear that she carried the milk walking on top of a flowing river. He asked her how she was able to walk on the river and she explained to him how she did it by repeating the name of God as she crossed the river. He said he wanted to experience how the mantra worked. The girl went in front and repeatedly called on the name of God as she was crossing. The man came behind her and was doing the same. Midway across the river, this simple man began to be afraid that his long dress would get wet, and as soon as he pulled the dress up in fear, he began to sink. The girl explained to him that he was sinking because of his fear and distraction. He couldn’t pray wholeheartedly while holding the hem of his garment in his hands.

Prayer works effectively when it is accompanied by ardent faith, courage, and singlemindedness. Many are overwhelmed with fear and lack of faith today because of socio-economic and family crises. The worse thing that can happen to any human person is to lose faith in God in moments of crisis and confusion. The prophet Habakkuk found himself in a difficult time in the history of Judah. He witnessed discord, disorder, and violence. He asked questions and expressed utter disappointment at the situation of things around him. Habakkuk is unique in the way he articulated his sentiments and prayers to God. He was bold in expressing the frustrations of the people to God. He said, “Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise” (Hab. 1:3b). Eventually, he realised that amid this disorder, the righteous would live by faith (Hab 2:4). Thus, his book admonishes the people to have faith in God even during national crises.

Faith means steadfast loyalty. Faith is courage in the face of danger. It is an unshakeable and unquestionable confidence in the power of God. Paul the Apostle admonished Timothy to shun the spirit of timidity and be bold in spirit. Certainly, the good fight of faith requires the confidence and boldness that comes with faith. Therefore, with faith there are chances to do that, which is impossible, it enables us to see possibilities where others see impossibilities. Authentic faith obliterates fears, doubts, and reservations. A proverb that boosts courage says, “They conquer, those who believe they can.”

We can also describe faith as holding on to the truth, to love, and to God even amid adversity, affliction, opposition, repression, economic recession, and persecution. This was the kind of faith the prophet Habakkuk called for. Martin Luther King Jnr rightly says that the test of the quality of the human person is not where he stands in the time of prosperity, but where he stands in the face of adversity. Faith is the ability to see God even in the dark situations of life. Another name for faith is optimism and a kind of optimism that turns problems into opportunities.

Jesus narrated a parable to his listeners about faith in action. According to this parable, people of faith should consider serving as a God-given privilege. Authentic faith serves with joy and not necessarily for rewards, appreciation, attention, approval or praises to be obtained. Thus, faith is fully expressed in personal trust in God and entrusting oneself totally to the service of others. This service requires self-sacrifice. Jesus says a servant should not expect his master to thank him for doing his work. He advises his disciples saying, “So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘we are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty” (Luke 17:10). Therefore, we must not expect God to thank us for doing what is right; rather we should thank him for giving us the strength and privilege to do, that which is good.

So, what does it mean to live by faith?
• To live by faith is learning to trust God in all situations
• To live by faith is to have a positive attitude towards life
• To live by faith is boldness in the spirit. “For God did not give us the spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).

27th Sunday; Year C; Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4; 2 Tim 1:6-8, 13-14; Luke 17:5-10

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